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Game Thread #26: A's at Rangers

Oakland starting pitcher Sonny Gray attempts a high roundhouse kick in preparation for entering the Kumite.
Oakland starting pitcher Sonny Gray attempts a high roundhouse kick in preparation for entering the Kumite.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

This team is better than this. At 10-15, the A's are winning 40% of their games. That extrapolates out to roughly 65 wins over a 162 game season. The last time the A's had a 60-win season was 1997 when the team went 65-97. Following that disaster the A's organization made the bold move of naming the 23rd overall pick in the 1980 MLB draft the new General Manager of the club, which led to 17 seasons of the A's winning 74 or more games.

The streak of 74 or more wins should continue for an 18th season based on my own personal opinion that good hitting will succeed over the course of a long season, and if there is one thing every A's fan today must admit it's that this team can hit. And by hit, I mean rake. In the AL, the A's are fourth batting average, third in runs, and second in hits. This production has been on display in this Texas series where the team has twice put up very crooked innings; a 7-run eighth on Friday night and a 6-run seventh on Saturday. Combine the hitting with the best starting ERA in the AL and you have a team that can score enough to win and the arm strength to keep opponents off the frames.

With all this hitting and great starting rotation, why is the team winning only 40% of its game? I'm sure you guessed it: Relief Pitching. The A's are dead last in the AL in relief ERA at 4.92. Across all of Major League Baseball, only the Padres and Reds have a worse bullpen by ERA. Using runs as a measure we find the Rangers, Rockies, and A's each tied at 47 for the most allowed. Believe it or not, the A's have not given up the most runs in the seventh inning or later. That dubious honor goes to the Braves . . . but the A's have given up the third most runs in the final three innings.

The team will right itself, though, because too much excitement is coming out of the batting lineup. Reddick doesn't look like 2012 Reddick, he looks like an even better 2012 Reddick. If the All-Star game was tomorrow, Vogt would certainly be representing the American League as the starting catcher. Davis, Butler, and Semien each have had their streaks. And Canha . . . really likes Rangers pitching, but all these pieces thrown together represent a dandy fine set of batsman.

In case you think I've been hitting the laudanum too hard, here are two stats to bring us all back down to earth; (1) today's game starts at 2 pm local Dallas time and the A's are winless this season in day games, and (2) this is my third Game Thread where the A's are winless, as well.

For specifics about today's re-match of opening night starters I direct you to Jeremy Koo's excellent series preview found right here.

In regards to the lineup, we see a lot of regulars for a Sunday. Butler takes the day off, but Canha replaces him at DH. Fuld gets the start in left-field, but is batting eighth. The lead-off spot goes to Burns for the second game in a row, along with the top third of the order remaining the same. Last night the Burns-Semien-Reddick combination went 6 for 15 with 4 runs and 4 RBIs. Here's to more success today.

Today's Lineups

Billy Burns - CF Leonys Martin - CF
Marcus Semien - SS Elvis Andrus - SS
Josh Reddick - RF Prince Fielder - DH
Mark Canha - DH Adrian Beltre - 3B
Stephen Vogt - C Shin-Soo Choo - RF
Ike Davis - 1B Kyle Blanks - 1B
Brett Lawrie - 3B Carlos Peguero - LF
Sam Fuld - LF Carlos Corporan - C
Eric Sogard - 2B Rougned Odor - 2B
Sonny Gray - RHP Yovani Gallardo - RHP